Answers to Your Most-Searched for Nutrition Questions

| 4 min read

Man reading a label in the supermarket.
As you’ve probably noticed, finding reputable health advice online can be hit or miss. That’s why we’ve gathered five of the most searched-for nutrition questions in one place, so you can feel confident you’re getting quality answers.
  1. What is the keto diet?
The ketogenic diet replaces carbohydrate intake with fats. There are different variations, but the classic plan promotes anywhere from 75 to 90 percent of your daily food consumption to come from fats. Originally developed to help control seizures in children with epilepsy, this diet has recently grown in popularity for weight loss.
By severely restricting carbohydrate intake, your body is forced into a state of ketosis. This causes your metabolism to burn fat instead of carbohydrates as an energy source. However, it’s not a diet I’d recommend for weight loss because it cuts out or drastically reduces the intake of fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, dairy, nuts and seeds, which provide healthy carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. The risks of severely limiting carbs include nutrient deficiencies, liver and kidney problems, constipation, fuzzy thinking and mood swings. Ninety-five percent of diets fail and can lead to more weight gain in the long run. If a diet works, why are you trying a new one every year?
  1. What are the benefits of a plant-based diet?
A plant-based diet celebrates a focus on foods primarily from plants and includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans.
Adopting a plant-based diet doesn’t always mean becoming a vegetarian or vegan but choosing more foods from plant sources and limiting animal products. Plant-based diets have been linked to several health benefits, including reducing your risk of heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, diabetes, and cognitive decline.
  1. How much water should I be drinking?
Water is essential to your body’s functions. It helps get rid of waste through urination, perspiration and bowel movements, keeps your temperature normal, lubricates and cushions joints and protects sensitive tissues. In general, water makes up a whopping 60 percent of your body. So, you can see why it’s important to consume the right amount.
Most of our lives, we’ve been told we need to drink about eight glasses of water per day. This may not be exactly accurate, though. Your individual needs depend on many factors, including your gender, health, activity level and location. Ideally, men and women should aim for at least half their body weight in ounces of water daily.
Consuming foods with high water content, like fruits and vegetables, has the power to help us stay hydrated as well. Liquids account for 80 percent of our bodies’ hydration needs, while 20 percent typically comes from the foods we eat.
  1. What is added sugar and how does the body react to it?
Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. Naturally occurring sugars such as those in fruit, sweet potatoes, milk and other dairy products are not added sugars. The leading sources of added sugars in the US diet are sugar-sweetened beverages, processed desserts like cakes and cookies, candy and dairy desserts like ice cream.
Consumption of added sugars can lead to health problems such as weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The Food and Drug Administration is updating the Nutrition Facts label to help identify how much sugar is added to foods. You may have already seen a new line for added sugars on some Nutrition Facts labels. Until all labels have this listed, you can estimate how much sugar is added to a product by looking at the ingredients. Ingredients are listed in descending order, so the sooner the sugar or syrup is listed, the more the product contains. The recommendation for added sugar limitations are: Men should have no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams) of added sugar per day, women should limit added sugar intake to 6 teaspoons per day (24 grams) and children should have no more than 4-6 teaspoons of added sugar per day (16-24 grams).
  1. What are empty calories?
Empty calories are calories that provide little to no nutritional value. These generally come from solid fats and added sugars. We just learned above that added sugars are added to foods when processed or prepared. Solid fats are fats that are solid at room temperature, like butter, shortening, lard, and hydrogenated oils. Most solid fats are high in saturated fats and/or trans fats, which tend to raise “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels and can increase the risk of heart disease. Many of the items listed as leading sources of added sugars above are top offenders of empty calories, as well.
Were these your top questions? Leave a comment below with other nutrition questions you have, and we might write about them in future posts.
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Photo credit: Ridofranz

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